Brazil’s Federal Police arrested 18 people Tuesday in a crackdown on an extermination squad that operated in Natal, capital of the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte.
The suspects, who include 11 state and municipal police officers, have been linked to 22 homicides and five attempted homicides, Federal Police spokespersons said.
Besides targeting drug dealers, the death squad engaged in murder-for-hire and killings of witnesses, according to federal authorities. More than 200 Federal Police took part in Tuesday’s arrests.
The suspects will be charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and with membership in an extermination squad, Federal Police said in a statement. The leaders of the group could face prison sentences of up to 395 years.
This is the third time in two years that Federal Police have moved against a death squad comprising active-duty law enforcement officers.
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